Poland’s lawmakers have approved a controversial electoral law that critics say will give the ruling party influence over the voting procedure and will allow more room for vote rigging. The lower house voted late Wednesday to approve the legislation that will govern elections, beginning with local elections this fall. It was proposed by the ruling conservative Law and Justice party and is seen as favoring it. The party took power after winning elections in 2015 and immediately set about changing much of Poland’s laws, including those governing the justice system. The changes in the judiciary have drawn strong criticism from European Union leaders who say they threaten Poland’s rule of law, and have opened a procedure that could strip the nation of its EU voting rights. The new electoral law is expected to add to Poland’s conflict with its EU partners.
Under the law, parliament is to appoint most members of the chief electoral commission, previously chosen by top courts. The term of the current members would expire prematurely in 2019. The interior minister would be empowered to propose candidates for election commissioners as well as the head of the bureau overseeing elections.
Additional markings and notes will also be allowed on the ballot sheet, a change that critics say will allow for vote-rigging.